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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Thomas R. Ellington, October 10, 1983. Interview C-0122. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Ellington resented the many duties that came with the repair jobs

Ellington received praise from Everett Jordan and his other supervisors because he could fix the spooling machine at the mill quicker than anyone else. But when supervisors assigned him too many duties in the spinning room, he chose not to accept the work assignment.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Thomas R. Ellington, October 10, 1983. Interview C-0122. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

THOMAS R. DOC ELLINGTON:
I went in there as a doffer and doffed spinning; me and Grief Smith. I went from that to fixing and I continued as fixer in the spinning room the rest of the time then when they put the spooler in I went out on the spooler Barber -Coleman Spooler and I learned to spool, and I kept it in my head what I had learned. It broke down one day with Cephas and they came after me. I told him to start it up and he said, it ain't no need, it's out of time. I started it up and I seen what was wrong with it and I fixed it. Joe Neel said I'd have it fixed in 5 minutes time, and I did. One time Mr. Jordan called me in the office and was talking to me about when I was going to buy that old house over there, and he asked me about the spooler, and I told him that the spooler wasn't getting the proper attention that it should, and so he wanted to know why and I told him, Mr. Jordan, there ain't no one man that can look after 48 spinning frames, look after the help and keep the laps on and work on the spooler. I said, all he can do is run out there and put a drop or two of oil here and yonder on it and switch it off a little bit. He says, all right. About that time Mr. Altman came walking in the office and Mr. Jordan wanted me to tell him, so I told Altman. Altman said, Aw, you're hurting yourself. I said, No I'm not, I'm just telling the honest-to-god's truth; ain't no one man that can do all of that. So Altman asked me about taking a shift of 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the evening, and I told him, Awshucks! I couldn't even work four hours and go down on the river and catch a decent fish in four hours! Mr. Jordan busts out in a big laugh and said, You know Altman, He's right about that; they couldn't. And besides, one man can't look after 48 spinning frames, oiling and sewing on tape, cutting off laps and look after a Barber-Coleman Spooler.
BEN BULLA:
Is that what you were doing?
THOMAS R. DOC ELLINGTON:
Yeah. So I told Altman I wouldn't do no split shift; four hours in the morning and four hours in the evening. I went down to the mill and told Cephas about the split shift and he said, Well if you don't take it, I won't. Next morning I went in at 11:00 o'clock and met Cephas coming out. I asked him, Where you going? He said, I'm going home and come back in at 3:00 o'clock and work four more hours. So he took the split shift. The Spooler broke down with him and he didn't know how to fix it it's out of time. He told me it was out of time, and I told him to start it up. He started it up and it went about 10 feet down the side and I seen what the trouble was. I went over there to the work bench, got the other knotter out and fixed it. Helen Thomas walked up and said, He'll have it going in 5 minutes. So I changed the knotters Cephas was walking along holding it, about half way down he turned loose and came back up there and told Ralph Richie and Lynch that it was out of time. I said, Well time it, it ain't out of time. So I set the other knotter where it would tie and put it on, started it up and it went to tying. Lynch came around there and said, Well I see you got it fixed. Ralph Ritchie said, Cephas, old boy, I knew you could fix it, but I just didn't know long it was going to take you. I says to myself, I wish a ten-ton truck would come here and knock me clean through that brick wall. They called me back down here several times on that spooler; I knowed it by heart. They put Frank Hanks on it he kept it tore up, and he'd come to town after me. I'd come down and fix it; so one day Joe Neel came out through the spinning room and I was standing there and he said, If plumber don't get it fixed in 5 minutes, ain't no need sending after a Barber-Coleman man. Tisdale come walking around the end of the spooler, and said if he can't fix it send and get Cephas Knighten. Joe Neel said, Go-to-hell! I pushed the thing on and started it up and it went to tying. Mr. Jordan told me that if he had two or three more like me in there he could run the whole mill. And he also told me one time that he could take me and Walt Lingerfelt and two more like me and run the whole mill.